[Marxism] Fwd: “Chinese Revolutionary” - International Viewpoint - online socialist magazine

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed May 17 13:43:00 MDT 2017

The Chinese Revolution was also the setting for the final showdown 
between Trotsky and Stalin. Trotsky vigorously condemned and criticised 
the policies which Stalin and the Comintern prescribed for China. The 
main substance of Trotsky’s criticism consisted of opposing the policy 
whereby the CCP subordinated itself and its activities to the KMT in the 
name of uniting “all the progressive forces in the country” into an 
alliance to achieve Chinese independence and freedom from imperialist 
domination and oppression. [18] While the KMT did have a left wing, the 
fact of the matter was, as socialist historian Duncan Hallas points out, 
the Kuomintang “were bourgeois nationalists, with innumerable family 
ties among merchants, capitalists and land-owners, groups which in China 
were closely intertwined. Workers’ power and peasant revolt were as 
frightening to them as to the foreign bosses of Jardine Matheson and the 
Shanghai and Hong Kong Bank.” [19] Victor Serge – well described by 
Peter Sedgwick as having been “an anarchist, a Bolshevik, a Trotskyist, 
a revisionist Marxist, and, on his own confession, a ‘personalist’ ” 
[20] – and also at this time part of the Left Opposition in Russia – 
remembers that, initially, “the Chinese Revolution galvanised us all. I 
have the feeling of a positive wave of enthusiasm stirring up the whole 
Soviet world – or at least the thinking part of it.” [21] A shocking 
crime was to change the balance of forces in China. Serge conveys it 
best: “When he arrived before Shanghai, Chiang Kai-shek found the town 
in the hands of the trade unions, whose rebellion had been superlatively 
organised... Day by day we followed the preparation of the military 
coup, whose only possible outcome was the massacre of the Shanghai 
proletariat. Zinoviev, Trotsky, and Radek demanded an immediate change 
of line from the Central Committee. It would have been enough to send 
the Shanghai Committee a telegram: ‘Defend yourselves if you have to!’ 
and the Chinese Revolution would not have been beheaded. One divisional 
commander put his troops at the disposal of the Communist Party to 
resist the disarmament of the workers. But the Politburo insisted on the 
subordination of the Communist Party to the Kuomintang.” [22] A bloody 
massacre was the result. While Chiang Kai-Shek’s turn against the Left 
and the working class surprised many, it was not unanticipated. Trotsky 
provides a good analysis: “Patriotism has been throughout all history 
inseparably bound up with power and property. In the face of danger the 
ruling classes have never stopped short of dismembering their own 
country so long as they were able in this way to preserve power over one 
part of it. It is not at all surprising, therefore, if the Chinese 
bourgeoisie, represented by Chiang Kai-Shek, turned its weapons in 1927 
against the proletariat, the standard-bearer of national unity.” [23] At 
a speech in a party cell in Moscow, Serge “ended my five minutes by 
flinging out a sentence that brought an icy silence: ‘The prestige of 
the General Secretary is infinitely more precious to him than the blood 
of the Chinese proletariat!’ The hysterical section of the audience 
exploded: ‘Enemies of the Party!’ ” [24] This is an example of the 
dramatic degeneration of the Russian Revolution and the extreme 
authoritarianism that had triumphed, soon to be eclipsed by Stalinist 
totalitarianism. Meanwhile in China, Fan-Hsi made his way to Shanghai 
and observed the desolation of the city after the slaughter: “In the Old 
West Gate area... there was hardly a soul to be seen on the streets, and 
it was if one could actually feel the fear and smell the blood which had 
recently been shed there. Attempts had been made to paint out the 
slogans on the walls, but it was still possible to make out the message 
they carried: ‘Down with imperialism’, “Down with Chiang Kai-shek’, 
‘Oppose the White terror.’” [25]

full: http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article3134

More information about the Marxism mailing list